Orphan and Widow Care
Widows are women whose husbands have died, and orphans are children whose parents, for whatever reason, are not in the child’s life. In biblical times, the main cause of a child being orphaned is that the orphan’s parents had died. The Bible reveals God’s attitude toward orphans and widows: He cares very deeply for them. God commands us to protect and care for orphans and widows (Psalm 82:3).
Husbands and fathers play an irreplaceable role in a family. When the man is not there, the wife and child can suffer in many ways. The Bible tells us that God Himself steps in to fill the role of protecting and caring for orphans and widows. “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling” (Psalm 68:5). In our world, those who are helpless tend to be taken advantage of by those who think they can get away with it. However, nothing escapes God’s notice, and He will avenge the orphans and widows. “You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror” (Psalm 10:17–18).
God commands us to care for orphans and widows. When He gave the Law to Moses and the Israelites, He gave instructions for how to treat the orphans and widows among them—with harsh consequences promised if they failed in their responsibility (see Exodus 22:22–23). In the New Testament, James says that taking care of the needs of orphans and widows is part of religion “pure and faultless” (James 1:27). Caring for those in distress is not optional for followers of Christ.
In 1 Timothy, Paul lays out more detailed instructions for how to care for widows (1 Timothy 5:1–16). First, Paul puts an emphasis on a widow’s family taking care of her, instead of leaving it all up to the church. “If a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God” (1 Timothy 5:4). Paul instructs that, for a widow to be supported by the local church, she must be over the age of 60 and she must have been faithful to her husband and have led a godly life. In addition, she must have no family member to care for her (1 Timothy 5:9–10). The bottom line is that all biblically defined widows should be receiving the care they need, without anyone being overburdened by the responsibility.
We should not view caring for orphans and widows as simply a command from God we must fulfill “or else.” There is a tremendous blessing in practically serving and standing up for orphans and widows. In considering what our own attitude should be toward the orphans and widows around us, it’s helpful to remember that all of us were once orphans, spiritually speaking, but we were adopted into God’s family through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:3–7). Just as it was God’s pleasure to do this for each of us, it is our joy and privilege to collaborate with God in loving, serving, and protecting the orphans and widows among us.
WHAT WE DO
The Hope Movement answers the Christian’s call to care for the orphan and widow through the support of orphanages and church-based foster programs around the world. In 2016, we established a Hope Movement in Kenya and are legally registered in Kenya as a non-profit with a board and volunteer team of Christians. Along with helping orphans in various nations when God provides the opportunity we have an on-going commitment to care for over 120 orphans in Kenya and this number is increasing.
In Kenya, The Hope Movement provides:
Residential - In a cozy Christian home-like setting, the Hope Movement cares for children who have been orphaned. Our model of care is unlike the typical residential program. Each home provides a home for three to ten children. Homes are staffed with loving house parents and nurturing childcare professionals who have gone through an extensive background evaluation. The children eat meals as a family, spend recreational weekends together, learn together and participate in memorable moments of love.
Loving Child Care - Our team coordinates services for children and families. They serve as an advocate for the child by coordinating evaluations, medical, dental services, visitation with family members and school enrollment. We also provide for all of their needs from clothing, hygiene and other basic material needs along with love from a real family.
Nutrition Program - The orphans in our care are our children and we provide them with quality food grown on our local farm three times a day every day of their lives filling the nutritional gaps that are so common for poor children. Many are in such desperate need that the meals literally save their lives. Daily meals provide needed vitamins, fuels studies, and nourishes growing bodies.
Quality Education - 58 million primary-school-age children are not enrolled in school; 53 percent of these are girls. These children are at greater risk for exploitation, early marriage, and lower income-earning potential. We address barriers to education and work with communities and local governments to improve the quality of education children receive. In Kenya education can be costly; we cover school fees and purchase uniforms and supplies. As parents, it is essential that we provide quality education to our children. For our children who have been orphaned and live in extreme poverty, education can lift marginalized children out of the cycle of poverty, building their self-esteem, equipping them to support themselves and their future families.
Sustainable Agriculture - One in eight people in the world do not have enough to eat. Many poor farmers are unable to grow enough food to feed their own families, much less sell for additional income. That’s why we partner with communities to address immediate food needs — but also to grow sustainable food for the future. On the land where our home for children is located we grow and harvest thousands of pounds of vegetables, fruits, beans and other locally grown plants allowing the ministry to be self-sufficient and reduce food costs. Our farm also raises cage-free chickens for eggs and protein and our cow produces nutritious milk for our children. We also have a plan to develop a tilapia farm on our land to produce fish for our children to enjoy, providing them with additional protein to their daily diet.
Clean Water - Nearly 1,000 children under age 5 die every day from diarrhea caused by contaminated water, poor sanitation, and improper hygiene. However, we believe the global water and sanitation crisis can be solved within our lifetimes. That is why we are focused on providing clean water and sanitation to every man, woman, and child in every community we work in, including the most vulnerable populations in the hardest-to-reach places. We plan to drill a water well on our land to provide clean drinking water for the children in our home and for those in our community who walk for hours each day to fetch contaminated water for their families. We also will provide water filter systems to others in the community to help prevent water-base illnesses.
Health Care - Today, nearly 18,000 children under age 5 will die of mostly preventable causes, such as diarrhea, malaria, and pneumonia. We focus on child and maternal health by promoting health and nutrition practices and preventing major causes of disease. As parents of orphaned children, we are responsible for ensuring that they receive quality medical care. We have nurses on staff that provides immediate care and we prevent illnesses by providing mosquito nets, clean water, and sanitation.
Widow Care - In a country where families face a loss because of AIDS, malaria and other diseases, widows are often the most vulnerable in society. Women are forced to raise children, fetch water, work in the streets, and farm their land for food all alone with no support system. We select the most vulnerable widows in the community and assist them in becoming self-sufficient by offering counseling, spiritual guidance, and prayer, assistance to their children, home repairs, water filters and fertilizer to farm their land to produce enough food for their entire family.